Combining Payments and Loyalty Programs

(c) 2010-2011 by David W. Schropfer
Interpretation of a Possible Isis Mobile Wallet Design

The first pictures of the Isis mobile wallet are probably many months away from being released to the public. No, the image on the left is neither from Isis nor endorsed by Isis, but it has merit based on recent public statements from the company.

Last week, two executives on the Isis management team discussed critical elements of the company’s future product, specifically:

-A Convenient User Interface;

-Integration between payments and digital loyalty (including coupons and advertising), and;

-Open format for payment schemes, banks, credit unions, even transit systems.

Jim Stapleton, the new head of sales and account management for the joint venture, was joined by Sarab Sokhey of Verizon, an advisor and lead consultant for Isis, at the Mobile and Transit Payments Summit in Salt Lake City, hosted by the Smart Card Alliance.

In his keynote address, Mr. Stapleton said:

“We don’t think payment is the value proposition. We believe loyalty, advertising and couponing are opportunities that are necessary, because payments alone won’t get you there,” according to the content-rich article written by Tom Zind which appeared in the NFC Times today.

CONVENIENCE AND SIMPLICITY

The comment by Sarab Sokhey quoted in the same article was equally insightful:

“The number one Achilles’ heel in (the Isis Product), the hardest, is to get people to actually want to use this. The most critical function will be to make the user interface convenient and simple and able to deliver gratification.”

Alan Mazzan, an expert graphic designer and a pioneer in the rapidly-expanding field of user-experience (“UX”) designs helped design the hypothetical image of a mobile wallet, posted above.  According to Mr. Mazzan:

“Convenience for the (smartphone) user is everything.  Combining loyalty programs with coupons and credit cards will present the customer with many choices at the same time on the small screen of a smartphone.  So, the presentation of that information needs to be carefully designed to allow the customer to easily make a decision without losing the benefit of the information.”

OPEN PLATFORM

Despite being a relatively small credit card issuer in the the United States, Barclaycard US is to be the first issuer to use the Isis platform.   The inclusion of Barclaycard only makes sense if Isis also allows other credit and debit card issuers to participate in the Isis platform, as Mr. Stapleton clarified in this quote, according to the NFC Times article:

“Isis is enabling creation of a large-scale, open platform welcome and open to all,” said Stapleton.  “I don’t know all of the uses of the technology, but we’re there to enable them to get their credentials on the consumers’ handset and create broad utility for everyone in the process. Isis is open to all comers.”

Also, the first payment scheme to partner with Isis is Discover Financial Services.  Mr. Stapleton’s comments seem to indicate their willingness to include Visa, MasterCard, AMEX, and other payment schemes.  WHether or not these companies choose to compete with Isis or partner with Isis still remains to be seen.

JUST A GLIMPSE

This is a glimpse into one possible future of mobile wallet products.  Of course, there are other visions of how these new systems will work, and the reality of these systems when they mature could be, in fact, even more convenient than what is described here.

One thing is for sure: the future of mobile commerce, powered by the mobile wallet, is a future of convenience, security, and an empowered consumer.  Isis is not the only company to play a key role in this sector, but its focus on user experience and integration into all forms of digital loyalty could be motivate retailers and consumers to give Isis a try.

© 2011 David W. Schropfer
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